Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 1:1-9; Matthew 24:42-51)
A year before he was murdered, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a famous speech about work. He preached that each of us in her or his occupation should do the best job possible. Knowing that many of the people listening to him had relatively simple jobs, he focused on street sweepers. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper,” King said, “he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.” In today’s gospel Jesus calls his disciples to work with the same kind of diligence.
The passage comprises the middle section of Jesus’ “eschatological discourse” in Matthew’s gospel. The Lord is teaching his disciples how to consider the end of time when he will come in glory. Ironically he says that one prepares for his coming by not preparing. Since the end will come when it is least expected, disciples must always be ready for it. They are to assiduously fulfill their daily responsibilities. Jesus uses a butler as his prime example. As a worthy butler will dispense food rations equitably so must disciples perform their duties prudently. As the responsible butler will be made chief steward, faithful disciples will find secure places in the Kingdom.
For many of us a new year is beginning at this time when summer is ending. It is time to rededicate ourselves to our task – be it school work or waiting tables. We do it for the Lord as much as for ourselves or for the common good. We want people to say, “There goes a true Christian,” if they should see us at work.